Circuit Revision

In which I revise various different things in the circuit and land unusually well (if I do say so myself)

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After not flying at all last week for various reasons, and not flying yesterday because of weather (alas, it seems that winter is here…at least my bank account might go up a little?), today I was back to revise various things in the circuit.

I preflighted 4949, then J came out and we taxiied over to 18. As we were taxiing I asked if the changes introduced by CASA on June 3rd would make any difference at Lilydale. Basically the only difference is that it’s now legal to join the circuit on the base leg, but J advised against doing this anyway since it can make things rather messy separation-wise etc.

The strip was quite wet today so I had to be careful when taxiing/braking to make sure we didn’t skid.

So I taxiied over to 18R and did the takeoff (been a while since I’ve used 18!). Since we were using 18, I had to be careful to remember the displaced threshold when landing.

The first landing was a normal flapped landing and the next two were flapless landings. One thing I noticed (and J commented on) was that this time I was definitely being more proactive in controlling what the aircraft was doing on final. I was making lots of small changes to the power/stick to keep it going where I wanted, and adding power to keep the approach on profile etc. Basically, the things were working and it definitely made a difference to my landings, they were far smoother than usual.

After the takeoff for the next circuit, J pulled the throttle for an EFATO (I haven’t had to deal with one of those in a while). I put the nose down, said a swearword I don’t say very often (clearly I’ve been watching too much Top Gear) and picked a field. Then we powered up and continued the circuit.

The next circuit was to be a short field landing (or so I thought). Just before the base turn, J pulled the power for a glide approach. I turned towards the field and trimmed it to the glide speed. Then I decided to do an S-turn to lose some height and line us up with the runway. As we crossed the threshold of the runway (the normal threshold, not the displaced threshold) for some reason I decided to add a stage of flap – looking back on it I can see this was totally unncessary, it was nicely set up as I had it, I’ve no idea why I decided to add flap. However, adding flap had the effect of making us lose speed which wasn’t good. I tried to regain some speed by lowering the nose but wasn’t successful enough so J had to help by adding a small amount of power and lowering the nose a bit before landing it. I still don’t know why I decided to add flap, it was turning out to be a nice glide approach until then!

The next circuit was actually a short field landing. Since we were using 18 we didn’t have to worry about taking out any cars on approach, so the touchdown point was the displaced threshold (abeam the windsock) and the aim point was the normal threshold of the runway. I flew the approach quite nicely but ended up touching down slightly before the touchdown point as we essentially ran out of speed after I pulled the power back a little too early.

The next circuit was the final one for today as it was getting dark. This was another short-field landing, and I have to say this one was pretty good! I touched down just after the intended touchdown point, quite gently too, it basically all worked out rather well and J said it was ‘very nice’ so clearly it’s not just me thinking it was better than it was 😛 I didn’t just pull on the brakes to stop, I applied the brakes in short bursts to make sure the wheels didn’t lock, turned off at the second taxiway, and taxiied back to park.

I’m definitely pleased with my flying this mission. I’m more in control of the approach and I think I’m thinking about the approach both more and less – I’m clearly thinking more often about checking the approach and making corrections, but I think I’m also thinking a bit less about how to make the correction, I think that might be becoming a little more natural. J said that I still need to concentrate on making sure I monitor the approach more often – check everything every 5 seconds or so, before I tended to wait until things weren’t right before making a correction, rather than making lots of small corrections. I feel like my landings are becoming a bit more refined, rather than just ‘arriving’.

Next mission we’re going to work on unusual attitudes. I’m glad we’re going to do it, I’d prefer to go through it with an instructor than risk getting myself into trouble by myself. We have to be very careful about doing it though, since there is the risk of overstressing the airframe. So, if there’s no blog post from me afterwards, you know the wings fell off! 😛

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